Rookie Sunday: Medallions – Are you using Delta Same Day Change for more upgrades?

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The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card


RenesPoints Rookie

Welcome to a regular feature on the Renés Points blog. This blog series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this featured topic.

This looks good!

In a very popular post from last year on how to get more Delta 1st class upgrades, I briefly touched on one of the tools I use to get more upgrades, that is, SDC or Same Day Change. This takes work and, depending on your status, may even include some cost (fees waived for GM+). But it can help you if you are willing to work it and I think expanding on the possibilities is worth it’s own post with a real life example.

First off what is SDC. This tool, in a nutshell when you are 24 hours before flight, allows you to change to an earlier or later flight that same day (as your flight). There are a bunch of restrictions and you can read more about all the details on But this understanding is enough for us on the rookie level for what I want to cover, that is, more upgrades.

Just looks better up front!

I have just returned back from a trip out west and my upgrades for 2018 have been great as a Diamond with careful planning. In fact, I have or had cleared 7 of 8 segments so far – but I like 100% so I got to work when it was clear I was not going to clear one flight back home via Atlanta once we hit the 24 hour mark.

Now some folks recommend software like Expert Flyer to check for available seats but it will not tell you how many are open for 1st class upgrades. To my knowledge only Delta computers will do that. For me the most simple tool is doing a dummy booking either on or on the Fly Delta App to see how many 1st class seats are open for whatever segments (hint: also thinking what routes are less desirable than others helps your chances as well).

A decent cold chicken salad lunch

So in my case I searched and found a route that would yield similar MQMs (even a few more in fact) and the shot at an upgrade looked much better than what I was on. The Delta rep was able to switch me free and I did give up one of my confirmed upgrades for a shot at both legs. Did the gamble pay off? Notice at the top of this post there were more first class seats at check-in than those requesting upgrades! It was looking great and I cleared at the gate for flight one. What about the next one?

3 seats vs 1 in 1st? This works!

Ah, even the best laid plans can go wrong-ish. There was weather. Weather is a killer when it comes to upgrade because reps will toss just about everything out the window when it comes to the rules and all the (many) empty 1st class seats went “pouf” and were gone. However, I chose an exit row (as I often do) and ended up with 3 seats to myself (more space than 1st class and much more leg room).

A way to burn my HOOUs

Sure by not choosing C+ I had to burn a few HOOUs on the 4+ hour ride but that is what they are in my account for after all.

Bottom line to take away from this little rookie narrative? If you do not clear before the 24 hour mark, and after check-in it does not look good to clear at the gate, consider SDC to other flights that will get you into the pointy end of the jet. Heck, depending on your goals, it may even net you a few more elite MQMs for your efforts and for those still chasing status with Delta that too can be a good thing! – Rene